Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Marathon Rules and Security: Post Boston Bombing

After things finally settled down from the Boston bombing it became very clear that the runner's spirit would never be broken.  In fact, I'm pretty darn sure it brought us all as a community, even closer.  The one thing that I think lingered in everyone's minds was "How is this going to effect future races?".

Today The San Francisco Marathon organization sent out communications in regards to the upgraded security at the event.  The start and finish areas will be enclosed and everyone (and their bags) will be searched prior to entering, everyone needs to arrive 45 minutes early to wait in a security line before entering their corral, etc. (Because a 5:30 am start isn't brutal enough) For the runners, we've been given strict restrictions on what type of hydration device we can take onto the course and any hydration device/pack/belt that has any sort of bag or pocket will be searched.  (Let me preface this by saying that I am in total agreement with upgraded security standards and that while I think it is pretty lame that it has come down to this, I will do anything to ensure the safety of not only myself but of all the runners and spectators.)  As soon as I read that restriction I immediately thought of the backlash that was about to take place.  When you train for a marathon, you use your long runs to train not only your legs, but to figure out what sports bra is the most comfortable, which shorts won't chafe your thighs, which gels won't give you a case of the trots, and you also learn how much hydration you need and when to take it.  Most importantly, you train with your hydration device!  Some people don't run an actual race with their hydration packs, but myself and many others do.  Springing this type of restriction on runners 2.5 weeks before a race sends many into immediate panic mode!  Fortunately for me, it looks like my belt fits within the standards.  I went as far as to post on their Facebook page a link to my hydration belt and they said it should be no problem.  Those most affected by this are those that use CamelBak Hydration packs or vests.  I completely feel for anyone who now has to change their game plan! 

Again, in the grand scheme of things this is a small issue to contend with on race day and switching hydration devices shouldn't "destroy" anyone's race goals.  I'm expecting a few additional layers of security at the race that they probably aren't disclosing to the general public.  I'm expecting higher levels of anxiety from all of the runners just to make sure they get in their corrals on time.  I just pray for the safety of everyone in attendance in San Francisco and I am thankful that the event planners have gone above and beyond to have a safe event.  I fully expect to see additional efforts made in other marathons across the country.  All of this is just a reminder that things will never be quite the same as they were before the Boston bombing...